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Milligan’s original musical production opens Friday

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, TN (October 23, 2006) — Milligan College’s original musical production titled, “The Gospel According to Jazz,” will be performed this weekend, Oct. 27 and 28, in Seeger Memorial Chapel on the Milligan campus at 7:30 p.m.

Written and directed by Milligan theater professor Richard Major, the production is loosely based on the gospel of John. Set in what appears to be the washed out remains of a post-Katrina French market section of New Orleans, the show’s ultimate message is one of hope.

F ueled by the vibrant, joyous tones of jazz music, the production showcases the talents of a cast of 18 members and a musical ensemble of 26.

Local world-class jazz trombonist and Milligan professor of music Rick Simerly serves as musical director for the production. Various genres of jazz, ranging from Dixieland to contemporary, swing and progressive will be featured.

Joining Simerly and his musical ensemble will be former Broadway vocalist and local gospel and jazz talent Loretta Bowers of Elizabethton, Tenn.

“This is one of the most ambitious productions we have ever undertaken and for those who know me, that is saying a lot,” said Major.

Members of the artistic staff include Matthew Wilson, an Emmanuel School of Religion student and member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Society of Choreographers and Fight Directors, as commedia dell arte expert for the piece; ETSU associate professors of theatre Karen Brewster, as costume designer and mask creator, and Melissa Shafer, as scenic and lighting designer; Mark Matson, academic dean and associate professor of Bible at Milligan, as story consultant; Hannah Beth Potter, a senior fine arts-music major from Fayetteville, Ga., as choral director; and Suzanne Richardson, a senior fine arts-theatre major from Abingdon, Va., as the stage manager.

The cast includes Matt Haas and Daniel Wallen, both of Kingsport, Tenn., Matt Roberts of Johnson City, Tenn., Brittany Curtis of Knoxville, Tenn., B.J. Krug of Jefferson City, Tenn., Amanda Green of Bristol, Va., Jaime Becker of Mooreland, Ind., Haylee Black of Plainfield, Ind., Zoey Phelps of Morgantown, Ind., Tyler Simmons of Newburgh, Ind., Megan Gable of Lebanon, Ind., Kyle Kuhn of Fishers, Ind., Jessica Davis of Litchfield, Ill., Angela McCann of Radcliff, Ky., Will McVey of Portales, N.M., and Caitlin Smith  of Columbus, Ind.

The production is a participating entry in the 39th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, a year round national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States.

All seats are $10 and will be available at the door each night of the performance or in advance by contacting the Milligan College Bookstore at 423.461.8733. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Funding for the production has been provided by an Arts Build Communities ( ABC) Grant from The Tennessee Arts Commission, administered locally by The Johnson City Area Arts Council.

For more information contact Richard Major at 423.461.8771 or RMajor@milligan.edu.

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MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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